Canterbury City Council leader Simon Cook has dismissed as “meaningless” a complaint about work he has done for a tax campaign group.
The Conservative is listed as a “research fellow” on the website of the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA), which campaigns to reduce and simplify taxation and cut waste in public expenditure.
This prompted Lib Dem group leader Michael Dixey to submit an official complaint to the city council’s monitoring officer Steve Boyle on the grounds that Cllr Cook had failed to disclose his links to the TPA in his register of interests.
Cllr Dixey’s complaint to Mr Boyle read: “Simon Cook appears to be employed as a research fellow by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, but it doesn’t seem to be registered on the council’s website.”
The complaint comes against a backdrop of increasing political acrimony as the district nears the 2019 council elections in May when the Conservatives will be defending a 17-seat majority.
Cllr Cook, who has been leader since 2015, denounced the complaint against him as spurious on the basis that he was never paid by the TPA for his services.
“It’s a load of old cobblers, it really is, and I honestly thought better of Michael,” Cllr Cook told the Canterbury Journal today (Monday).
“I’ve never been paid by the TPA and therefore it doesn’t have to be registered as an interest.
“I did some them work for them as I agree with the principle of paying lower tax. It was unpaid work, but which I said would have to stop when I became leader of the council.”
The council currently comprises 28 Conservatives, four members of the Labour Party, four Lib Dems, two independents and a member of the newly created Foundation Party.
The next election takes place on Thursday, May 2.